|Venezia (Venice as we call it in English)
"Like no place else on earth" - Words commonly used to promote destinations that really are not truly unique; however, Venice is the one of the few places that is truly like no place else on earth! A historic city filled with canals and gondolas, locals and tourists. With no roads for cars, traffic jams or honking horns - Venice is a one of a kind destination offering you a different kind of peace and serenity sure to create lasting memories for every visitor.
What was once a thriving trade city connecting the east and west is now a one of a kind tourist destination for thousands of visitors every year. If you are arriving in Venice by train be sure to take the train to Venezia Santa Lucia on the island. The stop before this is Venice Mestre on the main land, rather than the island, in a somewhat unattractive industrial area and not where you want to stay when you are expecting romantic canals and the labyrinth of narrow city streets Venice has to offer.
Upon arriving in Venice the first thing you should do is purchase a very detailed map of the city. No matter how good at directions you are, even with a map you are sure to get lost wondering the streets and back alleys of Venice. Be prepared and enjoy this disorientation, as it is part of the joy of the city. You never know what you are going to find around the next corner - another piazza with cafes, locals walking their dogs and a glorious old church or an alley way that takes dead ends at a canal forcing you to turn around and try a different route - the city is a living maze waiting for you to explore.
As you roam the city take your time and enjoy the views from the small bridges over the canals, watching the gondoliers ply tourists around the canals, have a coffee in a piazza or the famous San Marco Square and view the historic churches and architecture that is uniquely Venetian. Take a gondola ride through the canals and explore the Grand Canal that divides the city by two keeping your camera handy as there is sure to be a picture perfect moment around each bend. Venice is like no where else on earth so savour every minute here to imprint lasting memories into your mind.
Like any place you visit there is always the decision of how long you should stay to get a true feel for the destination and the sights it has to offer. It is not that Venice is overflowing with things to see and do, in fact, you can more than likely see most of what you would want to see in about 2 full days and for cruise passengers that are only here for a day it will still give you and a great taste of what Venice is all about. In such a short visit though you are sure to experience something you have never seen before.
Carl's 10 Travel Tips for Venice
1. Purchase a detailed map of the city and don't go out without it - you will need it! When looking for your hotel or a restaurant and you are going by an address, note that building are not numbered in a sequential order as we are used to. This means that Castello 6499 may not be anywhere near Castello 6502.
2. An inexpensive way to see the Grand Canal is to take the #1 Vaporettta at a cost of 5 Euros per person from the Train Station all the way down the Grand Canal to San Marco. It is sure to be busy but try to get a seat at the front for the best views.
3. Take a gondola ride through the canals of the city. The city was built around these canals and although we due to weather we didn't get a chance to take one, I am sure it is well worth the high price you pay. If the cost is an issue try to meet another few people and all do it together splitting the fare.
4. Vaporetta are like a bus system in any other city, but in Venice are boats on the canals. These are the cheapest way for you to get around from one point to another and if you are not into a lot of walking you can buy a full day pass or a multi-day pass.
5. Venice is very expensive. When dining try to get off the beaten track where there are not so many tourists and more of the locals to find a more economical meal. If you enjoy seafood there is no shortage of it here although avoid purchasing it on Mondays when the fish market is closed and your seafood may not be quite as fresh as other days of the week.
6. Hotel accommodations are pricey too but small B&B accommodations can be much more economical. Although we didn't have a canal view, we thoroughly enjoyed ours called the B&B Campiello Santa Giustina at a cost of 95 Euros per night.
7. Pack light. Remember when you arrive that there are no roads or cars in Venice and unless you are staying somewhere that includes transfers you are going to have to venture through the maze of city streets with your entire luggage which, can be a taxing introduction to Venice for many.
8. How long do you plan for Venice? If your time is tight 2 -3 days should be good for you to see the major sights and get a good feel for this unique city. If you are only on a cruise and have the day it will still give you a great feel for what Venice is all about.
9. There are only 3 bridges to get you across the Grand Canal which divides the city into 2 parts. If you are walking somewhere and find you need to cross the canal and one of the 3 bridges is nowhere near, look for a traghetto found at the end of a passageway called Calle de Traghetto. Here you will find a boat that will take you across the canal for fifty cents.
10. Wander and get lost in the streets and alley ways that are far from St Marks Square and the Rialto Bridge to get away from the densely packed streets of tourists and see where the locals live with the laundry hanging between buildings, refinished doors and unique door chimes and knockers.